History-maker Conor bids to keep place for future

Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin

Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin

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Fleetwood full-back Conor McLaughlin has cemented his place in Town’s history books after scoring his first goal for Northern Ireland.

McLaughlin has missed Town’s last four games due to international duty and scored his first international goal as he nodded in Oliver Norwood’s corner for Northern Ireland’s third in the 4-0 win over Azerbaijan in Belfast last Friday.

That result moved Michael O’Neill’s side up to second in their World Qualifying group, five points before Germany after four games as they boosted their chances of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It was a huge result for Northern Ireland but also sees the 25-year-old-full -back carve his name into Fleetwood’s history books as he became the first ever registered Town player to score an international goal.

And McLaughlin, who has since come on as a substitute to win his 24th cap in Tuesday’s 3-0 friendly defeat by Croatia, hopes his goal can help him cement his place in O’Neill’s side, after missing last month’s qualifier against Germany, which the world champions won 2-0.

The defender said: “After missing out on playing against Germany, I knew I needed a big performance myself to make sure I stay in the team.

“I’m just more happy that the lads got the win against Azerbaijan. It was a very important win and we have ended up going above them into second place until we play our next qualifier in March.”